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Driving Tip: Use Your Eyes

March 16, 2005

The first few years after I got my driver’s license, I was very much an aggressive driver.  I did not like speed limits, traffic, slow people.  I had no qualms about lane changes across three lanes.  I did not blink at weaving my way through traffic, tailgating (okay, drafting), or the like.

Fortunately for me and everyone else in a fifty mile radius, I’ve calmed my driving habits since then.  I still don’t like speed limits, traffic, or slow people, but I no longer take them as personal affronts.  By and large, I’ve learned to separate the emotion from the driving.  Except in crowded parking lots, where I fluster easily (ask the wife).

Nowadays, I engage in what I call "tactical driving".  Basically it involves being alert, looking ahead, and reacting to situations before they happen.  This involves timing merges so I don’t have to slam on the brakes, or picking the best lane to be in, or looking patiently for an opening to get myself out from a slow pack of cars.  Patience is required, and timing is important, but an awareness of what is going on around and ahead is absolutely vital.

Sadly, most other drivers don’t bother looking more than twenty feet in front of their cars, which results in situations like the one I found myself in this morning, where a Jeep Cherokee decided to pull out into traffic and move immediately into the left lane, where I was driving at about 45 mph.  Needless to say, I saw them coming, so by the time that it could have become a problem, I was already in the right lane and past them.

I’ve tried, often without success, to pass along a few of these principals to friends and family.  Tactical driving is not about being aggressive, it is about being aware of one’s surroundings, and looking for and taking opportunities as they present themselves.  And the key to being aware is knowing how to use your eyes.

Which brings me to a wonderful article I read on Edmunds.com’s Inside Line.  It is about how to use your eyes to improve your driving habits.  It even provides pointers.

CLICK HERE to give it a read.

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